07/07/2017 Newswatch


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Now it's time for Newswatch, with Samira Ahmed.


This week, could virtual reality be the future of news?


Hello and welcome to Newswatch. BBC news through a virtual reality


headset. Will audiences take a experiencing news events this way?


And what questions to the new technologies pose for journalists?


First, though, Saffi Roussos was one of 22 people killed at a pop concert


in Manchester on 22nd of May. She would have been nine on Thursday.


Judith Mauritz spoke to her parents. I just wanted to celebrate the


birthday of Saffi through doing this. What has your family lost? We


have lost everything. We have, because we will just never be the


same. Stephanie and Trevor Firth were a number of viewers picking on


one aspect of that interview, saying...


Versions of the report ran on BBC News all day, leading the news at


6pm. It provided powerful and moving television but some people had


concerns about the prominence given to the item. Here is Mark Eden....


Linda Dell also contacted us about the coverage, leaving as this


telephone message. I found it to be mawkish in the extreme to show the


video clip of the people outside the concert hall. Surely the BBC can


find better news than this and finding these people in anguish to


put them on screen. I am fed up with it. The BBC director General Lord


Hall announced the corporation's annual plan this week, and he


addressed what he called a huge competition presented online by


companies such as Amazon and Netflix. He proposed the development


of virtual reality content in the news and current affairs. There has


been some work in this area, including We Wrote, which dramatises


the journey to Europe of a Syrian family on smuggler bows. -- boats.


The film was animated by the makers of Wallace and Gromit and it won an


industry award this week. It may not be news as we know it, but could it


be the future? Virtual reality footage like that is only properly


experienced wearing a headset, but a simpler version, 360 degrees video,


can be viewed online and on mobiles. The first such attack was aired


following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2000 15. This is


what it is like in today, this is the Place de la Republique. The


attention was to create an immersive style of reporting which puts the


viewer at the heart of the story. But what questions to these new


technologies raise for the BBC, and could they revolutionise the way


that audiences receive news? I am joined by the newly appointed head


of the BBC virtual reality hub. Can you explain the difference between


VR and 360? If you watch it through a virtual reality headset, the


footage, when you look around, it feels like you're there. It is much


more immersive. But true VR is made from computer graphics and fix your


head into thinking that you are someone else. There is a giant pit


that it up there you and your heart might start beating faster and you


would get that fear of being in a real situation you are scared. We


have seen 360 degrees footage of the Large Hadron Collider. You get a


sense of its scale. It is more than just watching standard news footage.


VR is different. We have got that headset. You've got a film that has


been made for BBC News on it. This is a film we made to show you what


it was likely be a firefighter. This was a fireman that rescued six


children from a house fire on Christmas Day, 2012. The phone is


slotted into the front of their headset which is playing it. Get


started. Straightaway, it is in someone's room, and you're watching


how the fire starts. It is amazing. It does feel like you're in the room


with this fire officer talking to you, from his station, and


explaining the background to this incident, that he had to tackle. It


is just the scale of it. You feel like it is my size. It is very


different to watching something on a flat screen. -- life-size. If it


works well on a flat screen, it is not virtual reality. Obviously Yu


Hanchao -- choices about which stories get that treatment. How do


you decide what might be a story for VR or 360, or the benefit of telling


it that way? The benefit allows the audience to step inside story, so


that they see it as you would, if you were a reporter. For example for


a foreign reporter to stand in a place and allow the audience to look


around and see, and almost smell and feel the sites of the place you're


standing in. It offers amazing opportunities. With a firefighter


one, it enables you to be there with someone, see how they do their job


and being with them. It is be there, or be them. Is there at different


audience, one that does not watch bulletins and just watches things on


the website? Were at the stage now where we have not worked out,


really, how you would deliver this regularly to an audience. It is


still highly experimental. We are starting to understand the stories


that benefit from it. It is early days. The BBC has developed content


for mobile phones, when they were to deliver news but only 2 million


people have VR headsets and the BBC is spending lots of money developing


stuff for them. Is that smart money at this stage? We're not spending a


lot of money, we are investigating it and seeing what audience benefits


we can achieve through it. There would be no point in the BBC


spending lots of money until there is an audience for it. But it is a


chicken and egg thing. If we can find extraordinary ways to tell


stories using VR that allows people to step in, and understand the world


in completely new ways, that is completely justifiable. That film


about the refugee experience, which has won awards, I wonder how many


ordinary people have actually seen it. They work, yet, but eventually


more people will be able to. That was a very early prototype, to see


whether you could, through virtual reality, put people in a place where


they would see what it was like to be refugees, trying to travel across


the Mediterranean in the boat with them, feeling the splashes of the


waves, passing by the boat, and feeling the terror as they try to


cross the sea. That is what it was trying to achieve. That was a


reconstruction based report. If you are filming in 360, you get privacy


issues and whether distressing images might be caught up. You have


control of what you might be filming. Absolutely. There will be


lots of things we have to address as this technology develops. They are


not much different from a reporter filming something on a mobile phone,


it is just that it is all very round, and you might be filming


things that you don't even see as you film them and you are in the


spotlight when you're editing them. In the rush to give an immersive


experience, which is what lots of social media does, things like


periscope, is the BBC throwing away the editorial decision-making that


distinguishes BBC news? Most foreign reporters get excited about VR


because one of the missions of the BBC in the end is to help people


understand what is going on in the world. And so, if you go back to


those presuppose what we are all about, and work out how VR or 360


enables you to achieve those, I don't think those issues will be so


difficult. Finally, while we are looking to the future, the better


Stephen Hawking was taking the long view on Sunday when he spoke to us


at head of a conference to mark his 75th birthday. In an exclusive


interview with BBC News, Professor Hawking told me he was worried about


the future of our species. What is your view on President Trump's


decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and what impact


do you think that will have on the future of the planet? We're getting


the point where warming becomes irreversible. Trump's actions could


boost the Earth over a bridge with as becoming the plan of Venus with a


temperature of 250 degrees, and it's raining sulphuric acid. The decision


to run that at the end of the bulletin on Sunday at Robert


McCartney. He rang us to say why. Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest


physicists of all time, gave an interview to the BBC in which he


virtually said, the end of the world is nigh, because we're close to the


tipping point at which global warming, we won't be able to stop it


and we could end up becoming another Venus. And you put it as a minor


item at the end of the news. Things are grim. You know, you're treating


it as a minor item on the news! Thank you for all your comments this


week. If you want to share your comments on BBC News and current


affairs or appear on the programme, you can get in touch with those...


-- with us. And if you ever miss an edition of


the programme you can catch up with it on the BBC iPlayer or through our


website. That's all from us. We'll be back to hear your thoughts about


BBC News coverage again in the next week. Goodbye.


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